Companies Behaving Badly – Spring Forward

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Hopefully by now, your body clock is back in rhythm and you have taken the time to make sure your family is safe and protected by replacing the batteries in your smoke/carbon monoxide detectors and have checked that your fire extinguishers are still fully charged and ready to go when you need them.  The excuse of not preparing for an emergency because you believe that a fire, injury or accident only happens to the other guy and not you is, well, it’s stupid.  Discuss safety with the family, what to do when the smoke alarm rings, the evacuation plan, where to assemble and meet and for earthquakes or other natural disasters, have a emergency supply chest ready to use. Why would you want to spend more time dead then necessary and less time with family?  That unfortunately sounds like yet another episode of Companies Behaving Badly.

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Whistle-Blower Suit Defends Workers Who Assisted OSHA – PREVENTABLE – You should never keep quiet about safety and OSHA, on behalf of 2 employees that were fired for speaking out, is suing their employer, Lloyd Industries Inc., who ironically manufactures fire safety equipment and building ventilation systems.  Who can blame these workers as the company, during an OSHA inspection, was found to have a total of 23 violations with 12 Willful violations.  TWELVE!  As you may remember, a willful violation means the company knew of the hazards and that they could severely injure or kill someone, but couldn’t care less to fix them so now they have a proposed fine of $822,000 plus the amounts from the current lawsuit.  William P. Lloyd who is the owner, fired a worker after he had 3 fingers amputated while operating machinery that lacked proper guarding.  Mr. Lloyd seems to only care about his profits and nothing for his workers that earn him those profits.  You can’t be forced to operate any unsafe piece of equipment and if you are coerced or threatened with loss of your job for not doing so or you feel your life is put in danger by a creep like William P. Lloyd, call the OSHA hotline immediately, 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).

OSHA fines Geismar plant $70,000 over September explosion that injured four – PREVENTABLE – The Renewable Energy Group allowed workers to work and repair a pipeline that still contained a hazardous and flammable chemical, which resulted in an explosion injuring 4 workers with one of them severely burned.  The OSHA investigation found 3 Willful violations for this blatant stupidity and disregard for their workers, along with a proposed fine of $70,000.  If they had taken the time and steps to ensure a valve had been locked and clearly marked closed this would have been avoided but the Renewable Energy Group failed to develop safe work practices related to this lockout/tagout process, did not ensure those procedures were written down clearly and did not ensure workers had an effective process to verify when valves were locked out.  This was the second explosion at this plant in 2015.  I know you’re told to trust you company and supervisors, but there is nothing wrong with double checking that the pipeline was empty and safe to work on.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

OSHA: Contractor died because floor designs for Kiln building unsafe – PREVENTABLE – Even a layman knows that concrete is heavier than wood, yet Great Southern Building Systems LLC, doing business as Bayou Steel Fabricators Inc. failed to protect its workers despite being warned that the floor was unstable and could have been prevented had the employer obtained new engineering plans and followed the requirements.  Barry Berthelot, a 54 year old father of 4, paid the price as the supports couldn’t handle the weight of the concrete and collapsed spilling concrete an debris and killing him while injuring 3 other workers.  For this incredible lapse in thinking, Great Southern was cited for 1 Willful and 2 Serious safety violations and a proposed fine of $79,800.  When ever there is a change 

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20-Year-Old Window Washer Falls to Death in WI – PREVENTABLE – A 20 year old, just beginning his journey in life fell 58 feet to his death because his employer, Serwas Window Cleaning Services LLC., didn’t train him how to properly tie off his fall protection safety lines.  The following OSHA investigation found a total of 1 Willful and 8 Serious safety violations at three different work cites with a proposed fine of $69,800. The young man’s rooftop rigger was not tied to a separate anchor point and counterweights were not utilized when he went over the edge to wash and fell. You should always receive training before beginning any work at great heights.  If you are not given any training or fall protection equipment to use call the OSHA hotline immediately, 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).  Also go to his site, STOP FALLS for info in English and Spanish.

Contractor Willfully Exposed Workers to Potential Cave-In – PREVENTABLE – Another employer who couldn’t care less what happens to their employees as D.S. Meyer Enterprises LLC was cited for 1 Willful and 5 Serious safety violations and a proposed fine of $52,500 as they exposed workers to a cave in hazard.  OSHA was notified of an imminent danger created by unprotected trench hazards as workers repaired an underground water line on Jan. 19, 2016.  Serious citations were given for failing to ensure that workers in the trench wore hard hats, exposing workers to a spoil pile containing rocks and asphalt just inches from the open trench, and use of an improper ladder for accessing the trench

OSHA cites dairy corporation after third worker death – PREVENTABLE – Sharpe Holdings Inc. seems to have a problem with safety as a third employee has died since 2012.  This has earned them a place in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program and proposed fines of $189,000 for 17 Serious safety violations.  The latest victim, a 51 year old equipment operator died from serious head injuries after his ejection from the rear of a van.  “Sharpe Holdings is a repeat violator that knowingly refuses to follow basic safety procedures,” Mike Minicky, OSHA’s acting area director in St. Louis, said in a statement. “Three people have died while working at this facility in the last five years. This latest tragedy could have been prevented by using common-sense safety devices. Safety is simply not a priority for Sharpe Holdings. OSHA will continue to monitor and inspect this employer to ensure workers are protected on the job.”

Cinnaminson firm cited for unsafe job sites – PREVENTABLE – FALLS continues to be the number 1 killer because companies like Berlin Builders just doesn’t care about their employees or the law. They now face proposed fines of $198,550 for 19 REPEAT and 8 Serious safety violations at 4 different worksites.  OSHA found they didn’t provide fall protection for workers exposed to falls as high as 29 feet, didn’t train employees on fall protection, didn’t inspect job sites for hazards or train workers how to properly use ladders.  You know all that training and safety equipment costs money and cuts into their profits and if a worker dies, oh well.  Don’t put your life in danger just to line the pockets of a owner who couldn’t care less if you live or die.  Insist on fall protection gear and how to use it or just walk. 

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Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Behr Iron and Steel pleads guilty to OSHA violation causing death of employee – – On March 10, 2014, 39 year old Reynaldo Hernandez-Ortega was cleaning the shredder discharge pit for his employer, Behr Iron Steel Inc. but for whatever reason the company didn’t think it was important enough to LOTO the unguarded conveyor belt that caught Reynaldo’s arm and pulled him into the machinery where he died of traumatic asphyxia. The company has pled guilty in a deal that will place them on 5 a year probation and a maximum fine of $500,000 for willfully violating OSHA regulations.  This could have so easily been avoided but due to their stupidity a man is dead and in my opinion they are getting off too easy as their company head should be on trial for man slaughter.  Never work around unguarded machinery unless you use proper LOTO and if management doesn’t want to shut down a line but expects you to still put your life in jeopardy, Don’t do it and call the OSHA hotline, 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).

3 areas of workplace safety can be improved: MOM – SINGAPORE – Falls are also the number 1 killer for construction workers in Singapore as well. Check it out.

Cleaner impaled on meat hook in Affco safety lapse – NEW ZEALAND – No LOTO and a worker pays the price by having his head impaled on a meat hook.  

Employer justified in sacking worker with a bad attitude to safety – AUSTRALIA – Court agrees that a worker with poor safety attitude and record can be terminated. Read the article.

BGA: City Hall didn’t know of safety citations on city jobs – Why we need a national registry on companies with poor safety records so they don’t get city, state or government contracts.  This happened in Chicago where someone obviously didn’t do their homework. Companies that don’t care about the safety of their workers should NOT be rewarded with contracts.  What do you think?

Well my friends, that brings this episode of Companies Behaving Badly to a close.  As always thank you for stopping by and reading the articles.  Please feel free to use any or all at your next safety tailgate/toolbox meeting.  If there are any issues or concerns you would like addressed in future issues of Companies Behaving Badly please don’t hesitate to ask. Safety is a two edged sword.  Your employer needs to ensure you are in a safe workplace and train you on how to deal with those hazards present and you as a worker need to ask questions and use the safety equipment provided and ask questions.  If you find a hazard and bring it to managements attention and no one gets back to you or blows you off or threatens you to shut up, and their is no union rep or HR rep to help you, your life is in danger and you should either quit or call the OSHA hotline, 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).  Life is precious and you are as unique as a snow flake.  Why would you want to spend more time dead then necessary.  Never keep quiet about safety.  Until next month, stay safe.

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